Monte Dolack: Nature of Art


Two of America’s greatest and most creative cities have at their centers large and wonderful parks where nature still exerts a significant presence. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park and New York City’s Central Park give these cities their heart and soul and contribute to their cities cultural reputations.

My personal creative and restorative touchstone to nature is not far from our Missoula home. It is The Crown of the Continent ecosystem, which encompasses Glacier and Waterton National Parks as well as the Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. This also includes the Front Range of the Northern Rockies all the way to Missoula, not to mention the greater Yellowstone ecosystem and the High Desert Prairies and their Island Ranges to the east.


Pencil Study for Missoula Valley painting

Creativity can be a blissful and perhaps even unintended consequence of close proximity to nature. It is certainly an inspiration to many people, including artists. I have a friend who loves to be adjacent to nature but abhors the idea of going out into it. He wants to be close, but not too close. Other people literally immerse themselves in nature.


Color study (1) for Missoula Valley painting

When I find myself in a river with the alibi of fly-fishing I appreciate the fishing but it is the Being There that is of importance and consequence.  I usually also have a camera, notebook and binoculars although they are at risk when one is waist deep in a swift current with mossy, rocky footing.


Color study (2) for Missoula Valley painting



Another study for the Missoula Valley Painting

When Nature is threatened, compromised, polluted or destroyed it is not just the loss of a place of refuge and inspiration; it is the forfeiture of our very connection to life itself.  As Jared Diamond deliberated in his recent book Collapse, civilizations and cultures diminish and fall when they have damaged, overused or destroyed their natural environment or adjacent ecosystem, which nurtures and sustains them.

Missoula Valley Poster Final

Missoula Valley Poster Final


Whether living in a major city with a vital park at its core or living surrounded by nature and wild places as I am in Missoula. It is essential that we recognize and respect these special havens and bits and pieces of the natural world. For many creative artists it is essential. John Lennon lived in New York City but he was right across the street from Central Park.

Mount Jumbo Moonrise (1)

Mount Jumbo Moonrise


Mont Saint Victoire in southern France served as subject and pilgrimage site to Paul Cezanne one of the most important forerunners of modern art. He interpreted this mountain in his paintings over 60 times and made regular visits to this high and wild place near his home and studio in Aix en Provence.  He derived inspiration from nature which was synthesized and processed into his own creative vision. His work eventually attracted Pablo Picasso to the mountain where he spent his last years. He is also buried there with his wife Jacqueline on the north side of the mountain at his chateau in Vauvenargues.


View From The Horsebridge in the Rattlesnake Wilderness

Much has been written about the relationship of art and nature. As Thomas Merton said “art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”. I would say that nature does much the same thing, although as a Montanan I know that getting lost in nature can have more serious consequences.


Rattlesnake Glow



Colors of October -The Missoula Valley


To see more of Monte Dolack’s artwork, visit his Gallery or check out his newly renovated website.


A native of Great Falls, Monte Dolack grew up surrounded by the same sweeping vistas and big sky that inspired Charlie Russell. His love of Montana and passion for the West’s diverse landscapes and wildlife are evident in the images he creates and the commissions he undertakes.

His best known early works – wild animals wreaking havoc in human homes – comprise his “Invaders Series,” exploring the myths of the West and how we view our relationship with our environment. The irresistible appeal of these images helped build Monte’s national reputation and continues to attract collectors.

A love of the natural world, combined with his exuberant curiosity and travel experiences, has shaped the content of Monte’s imagery.  Blending mythology, technology, and elements from nature and the landscape, his work is infused with a sense of humor and irony.